The Detroit Lions came out a little sluggish in their preseason opener, eventually dropping the game by a score of 16-15. However, there were a handful of players who stood out for very positive reasons. Here are seven standouts from Friday’s preseason game.
Amon-Ra St. Brown
St. Brown only got two series with the Lions’ offense, but he immediately showed why he could be among Detroit’s leading receivers in 2021. The box score only shows two catches for 12 yards, but he also had a nice 13-yard pickup that was called back due to a holding penalty. On that play, he got a good two steps on the defender and nearly broke free after the catch. On the reception below, you can see how polished his route running is:
Amon-Ra St. Brown running CRISP routes— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 13, 2021
With the Lions shorthanded at defensive tackle, Kevin Strong got play with the first-team defense. Although Detroit’s run defense struggled early in the game, Strong made a few big plays in the first half. First, he knifed into the backfield and took down Devin Singletary for a three-yard loss. On the next drive, he stopped Matt Breida in his tracks for a stop on third-and-3.
Still in the game in the second half, Strong then added a forced fumble to his day, nearly giving the ball to the Lions' offense in Bills territory, but it was recovered by Buffalo. He finished with a team-high six tackles, too.
If you thought Reeves-Maybin may have some catching up to do because he missed the first 10 days of camp because he was on the COVID-19 list, think again. Reeves-Maybin shined on special teams, as he typically does. On the first two coverage plays of the game, Reeves-Maybin was the one to make the tackle.
Barnes displayed some versatility on his first NFL series. On one play, he drew a tight end in coverage. And although he was initially beat, his closing speed shined and allowed him to make a tackle for no gain. Just a few plays later, the Lions sent him on a combo blitz, and his pressure forced an incompletion.
Former Purdue LB Derrick Barnes patrolling sideline-to-sideline and putting pressure on Davis Webb with great speed.— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) August 14, 2021
Great debut for Barnes in Detroit. pic.twitter.com/GgA2LVrykh
While Okwara struggled a bit in defending the run, he created at least five pressures on the day. Okwara got playing time into the second, as the Lions clearly wanted to get a good look at their 2020 third-round pick.
Some juice off the edge from Julian Okwara on that last drive. pic.twitter.com/iK9HyVjnPX— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) August 14, 2021
Still in the game deep into the fourth quarter, Okwara picked up a sack on a play he just flew by the left tackle with a nice dip.
Throughout camp, there hasn’t been a standout running back beyond Jermar Jefferson on the depth chart. While it wasn’t a very successful day for the Lions’ running game, Mills had the play of the game on offense with this impressive 20-yard run on fourth-and-1.
Reynolds signed with the team on Thursday. He electrified the Ford Field crowd on Friday. In the fourth quarter, the 25-year-old running back showed some grit with a couple of broken tackles on a 10-yard run, then capped the drive with this impressive 24-yard touchdown.
Reynold finished the game with six carries for 49 yards and a touchdown.